Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

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Democracy Now!

Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince

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“There are no security issues,” says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services.

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JUAN GONZALEZ: Amy Goodman is in Haiti, and we'll be joining
her in a few minutes. But first, we turn to a voice from one hospital
in Port-au-Prince that was badly destroyed by last week's earthquake.
The General Hospital is three blocks from the crumbling National
Palace.

Former President Bill Clinton visited the hospital Monday, as
hundreds of people with broken limbs and multiple fractures were
waiting for medical supplies to arrive.

Democracy Now! reached Dr. Evan Lyon at the General Hospital Monday evening. He is a doctor with Partners in Health.

    DR. EVAN LYON: We've been working around the clock
    since our team from Partners in Health came to meet up with our Haitian
    colleagues, who are still here and still leading and still helping us
    recover to try to get this hospital back up and running. The
    infrastructure is really, you know, completely destroyed. There is a
    nursing school on this campus that collapsed completely, killing
    really, as far as we know now, the entire class of second-year nursing
    students. The medical school right behind me is-will not ever be usable
    again.

    But the main problem is that this General Hospital, the main
    general public hospital for the city of Port-au-Prince, is still barely
    operational. We have a thousand patients scattered throughout the
    campus, mostly sleeping under the stars or sleeping in tents, a
    thousand patients who have been triaged, assessed. They're getting
    primary care. They're getting good medical care from Haitian staff and
    from volunteer international relief staff. But we are just scratching
    the surface of the operative needs of the orthopedic and other
    operative needs. Again, 1,000 people in need of operations, and we're
    just barely starting to scratch the surface.

    Two days ago, we began operating. We had four operating rooms up
    as quick as possible and have been using them ever since. We don't have
    full proper anesthesia. We're missing many of the materials we need.
    But that has been working. As of last night, we have some electricity
    on the campus, and we'll be able to start operating twenty-four hours a
    day through this night and on through tomorrow.

    I think, you know, the singing and the [inaudible], I know, is
    clear to many, certainly anyone who has followed Haiti and cared about
    this special country. One thing that I think is really important for
    people to understand is that misinformation and rumors and, I think at
    the bottom of the issue, racism has slowed the recovery efforts of this
    hospital. Security issues over the last forty-eight hours have been
    our-quote "security issues" over the last forty-eight hours have been
    our leading concern. And there are no security issues. I've been with
    my Haitian colleagues. I'm staying at a friend's house in
    Port-au-Prince. We're working for the Ministry of Public Health for the
    direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I'm living and moving
    with friends. We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and
    3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials.
    There's no UN guards. There's no US military presence. There's no
    Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no
    insecurity.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health talking about the situation at the General Hospital in Haiti.

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